Department of Biology professors Zeb Hogan and Sudeep Chandra recently received an award from USAID, a U.S. international development agency, to continue their critical research and outreach in Cambodia through the Wonders of the Mekong Project. The Wonders of the Mekong Project, directed by Hogan, conducts applied research, builds capacity, and develops outreach and communications products to highlight the economic, ecological, and cultural values of biodiversity and ecosystem services associated with the Lower Mekong River. The award is for $4,975,456 over 4 years. The project spans a broad range of activities that include science, conservation, sustainable development, training of resource managers, and extensive outreach.
Hogan and Chandra are both globally engaged faculty members. Hogan is widely known for hosting National Geographic’s Monster Fish television show, and he is engaged in high profile service for conservation of the world’s fishes (e.g., as Scientific Appointed Councilor for Fish for the U.N. Convention on Migratory Species and steering committee member of the IUCN Freshwater Fish Specialist Group). He is in high demand as a speaker giving more than 20 talks, including keynote addresses, at conferences, meetings, and public gatherings. Hogan has published three papers already in 2019 including a recent paper in the top journal, Nature. Chandra continues as one of the University’s highly accomplished researchers with funding from diverse sources that include USAID, National Science Foundation (NSF), California Tahoe Conservancy, Trout Unlimited and others. In addition, Chandra published 8 papers in 2018 and five already in 2019 to date. Chandra also plays a major role in aquatic research at Lake Tahoe with new funding generated in 2019 of $678,546, and he oversees one of the most long-standing small-lake research programs in the world in his role as Director of the Castle Lake Research Station.
Hogan and Chandra's USAID project occur in the Mekong River Basin which has been dubbed the fish basket of Southeast Asia. Its resources support 60 million people making the river a critical asset for food security. Locally the project supports a number of employees, post-doctoral researchers, and trainees at the University of Nevada. For video information about the project see the Wonders of the Mekong YouTube Channel. The project has a number of highlights including supporting the next generation of Young EcoAmbassadors, dissemination of science based information through popular press medium like National Geographic and short documentaries that highlight major transboundary issues like illegal poaching and transport across borders and providing technical assistance that develops more sustainable practices in managing water resources. Technical advice in this project documents impacts of dams and climate to the greater Lower Mekong River basin.
As part of the new funding, the University will build Cambodia’s 1st limnology station and test novel hydroacoustic tools to monitoring the tons of fish that move through the river each day.
USAID project summary:
The Wonders of the Mekong in Cambodia activity seeks to stimulate and inform a discussion about how to achieve the optimum balance of meeting current needs without diminishing future potential - in other words, how to make development more sustainable. The activity will conduct applied field research and develop communications products designed to increase the public's and government's valuation and conservation of the vital ecosystem services that the Mekong River, its watershed and biodiversity provide for the sustainable development of Southeast Asia and resilience to climate change. The results of multidisciplinary analyses will be used to produce a multimedia package of communications products consisting of documentary films, social media campaigns, educational seminars, and articles in regional and international publications that encourage appreciation of the Mekong as a global asset, and that facilitate discussions and actions demonstrating that conservation is development. The activity will build a constituency among government, civil society, and private sector entities across the region to advocate for and pursue sustainable development options in the face of a changing climate. The activity will build a constituency for sustainable development options